PRINT November 1975

Altman in Music City

IN A LEAN YEAR FOR movies, Robert Altman’s Nashville—a rich, tart slice of Americana—has perhaps inevitably been somewhat overrated. Critics have called Nashville the best American movie since Citizen Kane, and Pauline Kael even compared it to Joyce’s Ulysses. The film deserves much of its acclaim, but these inflated comparisons only get in the way of a more rigorous analysis of Altman’s achievement.

Since his first critical and commercial success, M∗A∗S∗H, Altman has made eight movies, remarkably uneven, sometimes (as in the case of Images) disastrously misconceived, but always enterprising and unpredictable. He is just about the only American director who consistently takes chances, and if the critics have sometimes overlooked the failures of these movies in their eagerness to encourage Altman’s experimentation, their enthusiasm is understandable. By now Altman has exploded and reinvented

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